BORN FREE BROADLY WELCOMES SOUTH AFRICA’S PROGRESSIVE WILDLIFE POLICY PROPOSALS
Charity Urges Lion Breeding Industry Phase-Out To Prioritise Animal Welfare.
Born Free broadly welcomes a draft policy position from South Africa’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, which would phase out the captive breeding of lions for commercial purposes, place a moratorium on any efforts to open up legal international trade in ivory and rhino horn, and introduce animal welfare principles across wildlife management in the country.
The draft position, which was published by the South African government on 28th June, largely reflects the recommendations in the recently published report of the High-Level Panel established in October 2019 to examine policies related to hunting, trade, captive keeping, management and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.
Responding to the policy position, Born Free’s Head of Policy veterinarian Dr Mark Jones said: “Since our inception we have sought to highlight the devastating consequences of the exploitation of wild animals for trade, hunting or other destructive purposes, and have often found ourselves at odds with South Africa’s wildlife policies as a consequence. We therefore very much welcome the new focus on animal welfare and the protection of wild animals from the ravages of international commercial trade. We are also encouraged to see efforts to redefine the concept of ‘sustainable use’ based on ecological criteria, which will be critical in ensuring that the policies can truly enhance South Africa’s reputation as a responsible custodian of its wildlife.
“We have also advocated for many years for an end to the commercial lion breeding industry in South Africa, which currently exploits thousands of lions and other captive-bred predators for tourism activities such as cub petting and walking with lions, canned hunting, and the sale of bones and other products into international markets.
“We have advocated for many years for an end to the commercial lion breeding industry in South Africa, which currently exploits thousands of lions and other captive-bred predators for tourism activities such as cub petting and walking with lions, canned hunting, and the sale of bones and other products into international markets.”
“The authorities must now ensure that the winding down of this cruel and exploitative industry is conducted with the welfare of affected animals as a paramount consideration, and that the closure applies to all commercial breeding facilities whatever species they hold and breed.”
However, the draft policy statement also speaks of promoting South Africa as a destination for ‘responsible and sustainable hunting’. In response, Jones continued: “We are concerned that a focus on further developing South Africa’s trophy hunting industry runs counter to the principles of One Welfare and Ubuntu in which the Minister proposes to ground the policy proposals. Recent public opinion surveys within South Africa demonstrate that a sizeable majority of the public is opposed to trophy hunting, and the Minister should take account of this and the growing international concerns about the ethical and moral acceptability of killing animals for pleasure.”
Born Free’s Executive President Will Travers OBE added: “We stand ready to work with the South African authorities and other stakeholders to ensure that the proposed progressive reforms can be successfully implemented and the objectives achieved, with full regard for animal welfare, and for the benefit of wildlife and wider biodiversity, as well as for the people of South Africa. The proposed reforms will serve to enhance South Africa’s international reputation, as well as having the potential to place South Africa at the forefront of regional and international efforts to transform our relationship with nature and wildlife for the good of all.”
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